Guiding Principles of Development

Development is an area that there are far more things that have been done wrong than have been done right. As a result I have created a few rules or axioms that I have found are a great use in avoiding pitfalls that others get into over and over. These are broad ideas that should always be present in your mind when doing and/or studying anything in development.

  1. Focus on any one thing too much and you will start to effect things that you never thought you were effecting.
  2. Understand why someone makes the decisions that they do before you do anything to try to get them to change those decisions.
  3. Challenge every assumption that you have. Even the ones that you have never questioned before.
  4. If you think the poor are irrational, know that you haven’t done 2 and 3 above.
  5. “Doing good” can become a veil that stops learning within organizations and people.
  6. At the end of the day, emotions and intentions are irrelevant to the poor’s needs.

These next three are more for my own direction in development but important to think about.

  1. You either need time and/or money to do anything of substance in development at a young age and I don’t believe it needs to be this way.
  2. Business is not seen as social impact even though most aid work is geared towards increasing business activity of the poor.
  3. China has had the greatest success in poverty reduction in modern history but it is just a footnote for those in development.
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